We Visited a “Full Contact Gunfight Arena” in Las Vegas to Ask: Has Anything Changed?

Did the massacre change any opinions about gun safety?

Al Kamalizad/Mother Jones

In addition to interviewing gun control advocates who were demonstrating in Las Vegas on Wednesday nightMother Jones filmmaker Al Kamalizad also focused his camera on a local business-owner who works with guns every day. We wanted to know: Will the massacre change any of his opinions on the gun control debate?

Earlier on Wednesday, we went to Las Vegas Gunfights, a company that sells tactical training sessions and simulated “gunfight experiences for tourists,” to speak to businessman Nephi Oliva about his reactions to the Las Vegas massacre and his starkly different take on gun regulations.

“We can have a serious discussion about gun control, but first, take the guns away from the criminals,” Oliva said. “Then take the guns away from crooked police officers. Then take them away from crooked politicians, and tyrannical government officials. Once you’ve done all that, I will gladly hand my guns over.”

Inside, we found a walled-off arena with corrugated metal siding, sand floors, and stacks of barrels that can be used as weapons or for cover. Here, participants battle using real guns and non-lethal ammo in a free-for-all that has left “six or seven guys knocked out this year.”

“Republicans and Democrats both want safety, everybody wants to feel safe, so in that regard we’re all on the same page,” Oliva said. “But the difference we find is that Democrats tend to rely more on the government to provide that protection, and Republicans rely more on each other and themselves.”

Go inside the arena in the video above.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

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